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In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms.

Diagnosed in 1998

Get pumped for exercise

Research shows strength training can lessen MS symptoms.

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Exercise as Part of Everyday Life

Physical activity can be a regular part of staying healthy if you have MS. Includes tips on handling MS symptoms.

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Stretching for People with MS

Illustrated manual showing range of motion, stretching, and balance exercises for at-home program.

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In this article

Exercise / physical activity with MS

Judy Boone, physical therapist Lynn Williams, Dan Melfi and Dave Altman discuss the physical activities they enjoy / have modified to continue while living with MS.


In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms. A study published by researchers at the University of Utah in 1996 was the first to demonstrate the benefits of exercise for people with MS. Those patients who participated in an aerobic exercise program benefited from:

  • better cardiovascular fitness
  • improved strength
  • better bladder and bowel function
  • less fatigue and depression
  • a more positive attitude
  • increased participation in social activities

Additional studies have confirmed the benefits of exercise, including improvement in cognitive function and mood enhancement. 

Inactivity in people with or without MS can result in numerous risk factors associated with coronary heart disease. In addition, it can lead to weakness of muscles, decreased bone density with an increased risk of fracture, and shallow, inefficient breathing.

An exercise program needs to fit the capabilities and limitations of the individual. It may need to be adjusted as changes occur in MS symptoms. A physical therapist experienced with MS can be helpful in designing, supervising and revising an exercise program. Any person with MS who is initiating a new exercise program should also consult with a physician before starting.

Periods of exercise should be carefully timed to avoid the hotter periods of the day and prevent excessive fatigue. With some guidelines, an exercise program can help maintain good health.

Physical activity

Exercise doesn't have to be a rigorous cardiovascular workout to provide benefits.  Physical activity in general is beneficial and can include a variety of things most people can do in the comfort of their home or community.  Physical activity includes but is not limited to:

  • gardening
  • household chores
  • cooking

Exercise in Water

The unique qualities of water provide exceptional benefits to people with MS. Water helps people with MS move in ways they may not be able to on land.

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  • Yoga and Non-Cardio Exercises: Your Allies in Managing MS Symptoms and Improving Overall Health- telelearning brought to you by the National MS Society and Can Do MS
  • Workout Your Worries: Anxiety and Exercise in MS- telelearning brought to you by the National MS Society and Can Do MS
  • Your Mind is a Muscle, Too: The Relationship Between Exercise and Cognition- telelearning brought to you by the National MS Society and Can Do MS
  • ChairFit with Nancy- series of free exercise videos developed by a physical therapist with years of experience working with people with MS.
  • The MS Trust’s (United Kingdom) series of exercise videos for people with MS can be done in a seated or standing position to address balance, endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • 14 Weeks to a Healthier You - free, personalized, web-based physical activity and nutrition program targeted to people with mobility limitations, chronic health conditions and physical disabilities. Created by National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), the program can help you get moving and make healthy nutrition choices.
  • The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with Multiple Sclerosis can help adults with mild to moderate disability, resulting from relapsing or progressive forms of MS, to improve their fitness.
  • The Aquatic Physical Therapy and MS video produced by Laura Diamond, MS, PT, Diamond Physical Therapy Associates, PC, and Jill McElligott, PT, DPT, offers an introduction to the potential benefits of aquatic physical therapy for managing MS symptoms and enhancing fitness. It also provides interviews with a neurologist, a physiatrist and an aquatic physical therapist, all of whom specialize in working with people with MS, as well as with people with MS about their perspectives on aquatics exercise.
  • Balanced Body Pilates offers an online search tool to locate Pilates facilities, instructors and studios throughout the U.S. Referrals may also be obtained by phone.
  • United States Pilates Association (USPA) offers an online search tool to locate Pilates instructors and studios throughout the U.S. Search by zip code or city/state. Instructors in the search tool are certified under the New York Pilates Studio Teacher Certification Program.
  • IDEA Health & Fitness Association With more than 22,000 members, IDEA Health & Fitness Association is the world’s leading membership organization for fitness and wellness professionals.  IDEA offers the FitnessConnect Directory, the largest national industry-wide directory of fitness professionals.  The online directory connects more than 16 million consumers to more than 250,000 fitness professionals, with credentials verified by the top 100 fitness certification and training bodies.